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Secret Garden (No.1)

Secret Garden (no1)
oil on panel
59.4 x 84 x 2cm

Most of my work is inspired by nature. This piece is part of a series dealing with environmental concerns. Recently I have been looking at endangered plant species, making charcoal or pen drawings and then working them up into abstract watercolour studies. The colours and shapes within this painting came from studies of various plant shapes made individually and then put together to form a kind of imaginary garden. In some ways it is a fantasy concoction because it consists of unrelated plants but then isn’t every garden an unnatural gathering together of unrelated species?

The idea of a ‘secret garden’ is something that has appeared many times over the centuries as a symbolic representation of Biblical themes, sexuality and spirituality. After reading many descriptions I came to the conclusion it can pretty much mean anything you want! To me it’s about finding hidden beauty with us all and nurturing what is precious.

I’m fascinated by the play of light through mist. I wanted to capture these light effects and the mood of a misty morning walk in a forest. I paint in the studio mostly from memory with only occasional reference to my sketches and photos. Working this way allows me to break free from making a more representational image. It is not about a specific place or plant or landscape. It is more of an expression of how I feel about the place and probably says more about my own internal journey than a particular subject. 

Oil paint is applied in many thin glazes over a wooden panel. The glazes of oil paint create a translucent surface revealing subtle colour variations with prolonged viewing. There is also some spray painting in the under layers. There are also calligraphic-like marks inspired by the flutter and flash of insects caught in misty morning light. These quick, intuitive marks also represent for me the flow of energy in the universe. 

My main artistic inspiration is the work of JMW Turner. Monet, Bosch, Chinese ink painting, Buddhist art are all influences. I also take ideas from Art Nouveau, Surrealism and fantasy art. Contemporary artists Chu Te Chun, Zao Wou-Ki, Chris Rivers, Ella Baudinet, Darren Waterston and Cruz Jimenez all inform my work.

I hope the viewer senses the quiet movement in the shapes and colour palette.
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